Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong has sent a warning to international forces not to intervene.

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As tensions between China and Western governments over Hong Kong rose on Thursday, Beijing’s top official in the region warned foreign forces that they would be taught a lesson if they wanted to use the global financial centre as a “pawn.”

The director of China’s Hong Kong Liaison Office, Luo Huining, was speaking at a ceremony marking a “education day” for the National Security bill, which authorities have organised to support the sweeping legislation China imposed last year.

“We will give a lesson to all foreign forces which intend to use Hong Kong as a pawn,” Luo said.

The new law drew criticism from the West for curbing rights and freedoms in the former British colony, which was promised a high degree of autonomy upon its 1997 return to Chinese rule. Its supporters say the law has restored order following mass anti-government and anti-China protests in 2019.

Over the past year, China, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union have exchanged tariffs as the security legislation and efforts to limit political participation in the city’s institutions exacerbated tensions.

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Earlier this week, a letter signed by over 100 British politicians urged Boris Johnson’s government to add more Chinese authorities to a list of those guilty of “gross human rights violations.”

National Security Education Day will be marked by school events, sports, and shows, as well as a parade of police and other government departments performing the Chinese military’s “goose step” march.

The Chinese routine, in which soldiers raise their legs rigidly straight off the ground and swing their arms at a 90-degree angle in front of their chest, will replace British-style foot exercises at a police and other services parade.

A booth set up at the Hong Kong Police College was selling key rings with the words “Warning tear smoke” and stickers with the words “Disperse or we fire,” which were replicas of police posters used during the 2019 protests.

‘SUPPORT! SUPPORT! SUPPORT!’

Elsewhere, in schools and cultural centres, Hong Kong residents were invited to build national security “mosaic walls” to instil, according to a government website, the idea that people should work together to protect their homeland.

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Stickers and bookmarks with the words “Uphold National Security, Protect Our Home” have been sent to schools and kindergartens.

Students assembled at the city’s Wong Cho Bau Secondary School for a flag-raising ceremony.

“What we need to do as Chinese people, as Hong Kong people, is to be prepared and exert ourselves for the country,” headmaster Hui Chun Lung told students.

Hui emphasised the “stability” that the protection law introduced to the city before playing a two-minute video of various students voicing their approval for the legislation.

Students then formed a line to place “wish cards” on a mosaic wall.

“Supporting the national security law is not an issue. Support! Support! Support! I hope we can be one with the mainland,” wrote one student.

In February, Hong Kong released national security education directives that include educating children as young as six years old regarding colluding with external powers, insurgency, secession, and subversion – the four major crimes under the current legislation.

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Chinese authorities have blamed liberal studies in part for the city’s youth unrest.

The revisions to the school curriculum and the advertising promotions are seen as indications that Beijing’s ambitions for the city go beyond quashing opposition and push for a cultural reform to put it more in line with the Communist Party-ruled mainland.

 

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